Photoshop Painting Catchup #17: Theva Nemmonis


  • I just created a new character to play D&D with some friends for the first time in 25 years and am quite excited. I will be playing a female dragonborn paladin. She is 6'5" and about 265lbs with white/silver scales. She was a soldier for about 8 years before her clan got wiped out and now she is looking for payback...I looked for images on the web but most are of male dragonborn and higher level with fancy armor and weapons. And while I will eventually want something like that I figured I should have something that is appropriate for her current state at level 1.
  • She wears chain mail armor that while well worn, is kept in meticulous condition. She has a greataxe that she uses as her primary weapon and a warhammer for fighting from horseback (she also owns a horse)....She also carries with her a dagger that her first kill had on him as well as a war banner from her clan that is old, worn, and torn. Of course she also has the usual equipment (backpack, bedroll, saddle, saddle bags, etc).

This drawing was pure fun. Part of that was of course that I enjoy the hell out of drawing Dragonborn, and part of it was the challenge of figuring out how to put a Dragonborn on a horse.

A big difficulty with drawing mounted figures is getting the legs to plausibly wrap around the ribs of the horse without looking too long, too short, or extremely stiff. Make that figure Dragonborn, and suddenly you can add digitigrade legs and big toe claws to your list of difficulties!

Reference material pro-tip: Need to draw a mounted figure brandishing a weapon? Polo.

This also earns its place among my favorites because of the brilliant conversation I had with the Prompter about the final image. She liked it, but was the tiniest bit disappointed....

Prompter: 'That's pretty awesome! I think you captured pretty much exactly how she would react to an attack, charge in with weapon drawn. I love the look on her face too, even the look on the horses face matches. The only thing that conflicts with my mental image is that since she has a 20 STR and is 6'5" I just envisioned that her weapons would be a bit oversized and look more menacing looking, though the warhammer you drew is exactly what your typical one would look like. But that is just a minor thing. I love it and thank you!!! 

Me: 'I imagine she's a bit disappointed about the size of her hammer too! :D But this one works, which is all level 1's get most of the time. After she adventures a bit, she'll get a shinier hammer. :) She'd also like a bigger horse while she's at it. This one is tall enough, but tires too quickly. (Theva's not a featherweight.) She'll get a proper warhorse eventually.'

Prompter: 'Perfect response. :) Thanks again! And yeah, I was gonna badger the DM for a warhorse instead of a regular one, but then I saw how much they cost and figured it would be a lost cause. Only problem I have now is waiting until we play again...'

Photoshop Painting Catchup #5.

After the serious investment of my previous drawing, I wanted something a little faster and less complicated. So we're back to 'isolated character on an inoffensive background, with essentially no composition' for the moment.

Here's what I was working from:

She is tiny sized with blue skin that alternates from dark blue on her back to a lighter shade on her belly and stripes of yellow down her back, tail, and limbs. Her skin is similar in texture and looks to that of a salamander along with having a tail such as one as well. She stands primarily on her hind-legs when not flying and has a similar body type to that of western(not Chinese shrug) style dragons. Her front claws can be used to carry items such as her staff, scrolls, or longspear.
She has a much shorter snout to that of full blooded dragons and has writhing long tentacles sprouting from her scalp. Eyes are as yellow as her stripes. She has long claws and talons and only wears a loincloth as clothing as she has no chest. She also wears various amulets, decorative armbands, and rings.

Welp, I screwed up the lighting pretty hard on this one. Usually for shadows, I duplicate the 'finished product' layer, darken it the one on top, and erase away so that the light bits show through. But with the color distribution this time (light color belly which is supposed to be in the shadowed area) everything just wound up a bit muted. The shadows on the items like the gold are fine, but the skin shadows result in a sort of weird interior glow, rather than an exterior light source. I should have made the shadow layer darker but also a slightly different color- maybe green/brown.

This was also an important learning experience for chilling out and letting my brushstrokes show. The absolute best part of this drawing is the stripes- which show brushstrokes. So I need to really internalize it's okay if people saw you drew it. It doesn't have to have appeared there magically.

On a subject matter scale, I did several little things I think are worth sharing-

Her 'spear' is an arrow. She's about two feet tall, so for her it's a convenient size. Her large gold amulet and bracelet were originally made for humanoids. That's a regular size pendant and ring. She had to make her belt and loincloth herself, because there just isn't much familiar-sized clothing out there. And she's a bit pissed about it, because she's a crap seamstress.

Battle Dragon

Battle-Critter This prompt is from a subreddit called Artbattle, which I admit I haven't quite gotten the hang of yet. There are... fights? Except kind of more like a rap-battle, because there's this one-upsmanship turn taking thing. But with drawings.

I didn't win this round. Despite deciding that there was no way I could make it in color before the deadline, I still didn't get it done in time.

On the bright side, I finally figured out how to armor a dragon. It just bugs me when fantasy armor doesn't make sense, and a dragon is a particularly tough case- the armoring needs are kind of like those of a horse, but the critter is flexible like a cat, plus it has some of it's own naturally grown plates and spikey bits that have to poke through.

This scene came out of this old story, but I've made a few changes: There are only two sizes of dragon (the ones shown here) and the difference isn't species. It's gender. Humans have only legends of the big ones and consider them mythical, but are quite familiar with the small ones and think of them as clever animals, so tame them much like hunting hawks. Although they are confused as to why the critters won't breed in captivity...




Tiny Dragon

In the past I've posted a few dragons here, both of the cute and more traditional varieties, but it's been a while. It's dragon time. tiny-dragon

As you may have noticed, I often construct my inspiration out of pieces of geekery and intellectually stimulating fantasy, as in this old illustration. In this case I was flipping through this month's issue of National Geographic, and on page 68 there's a small color picture of a creature called Phyllodoce Madeirensis.

Without exaggeration- it's a tiny dragon. Well,  it looks like a tiny dragon in that particular picture anyway. I'm pretty sure it would look more millipede-ish were you to encounter it in the water where it lives, but the picture was great inspiration for a speedrun.

Yup, this is another speedrun. About an hour total?

A word about 'constructing inspiration'. As I'm mentioned previously, I rarely feel inspired by a single idea. It's when ideas collide that my brain says 'Hey, neat! Can I play with that?'

Even more interesting from a 'how creative brains work' perspective: When those interesting ideas or factoids run into each other, there's a pause. It feels much like solving a simple mechanical problem, such as assembling a doorknob. All the pieces of a great idea are in front of me, but there's a moment before I figure out how to put them together. And sometimes I put them together wrong, and then have to dissasemble and reassemble until I hear that little *click*.

Not to worry, the *click* is metaphorical. I'm not hallucinating. Yet.

Alexstrasza and Korialstrasz

alex-and-korial2 I figured I'd do my own version of a very popular subject in WoW art. You see a lot of fan-created versions of Alexstrasza, because, well... Alexstrasza is extremely hot. Plus she's a very powerful queen, and leader of an ancient people with mysterious motivations. Also a dragon.

Korialstrasz doesn't get nearly as much airtime, and when you do see them together, he's usually in the background somewhere.


I really like this pose for them. It's your classic 'dragonrider and dragon' or 'witch and familiar' pose, and the dynamic gets turned on it's head a bit when you know who these characters are.  Korialstrasz has no official power, his title is 'queen's consort'. Plus Alexstrasza could clean his clock any day. So although he's visually in the 'power' spot, he not only takes orders from Alexstrasza (as a witches' familiar would) he also is not the most physically powerful.

I'm not sure yet about the style. The shading makes them look a bit like stone sculpture. In this case I don't really mind, because this would be an awesome thing to have in the lobby of the red dragonflight, but for other pieces it might be a little incongruous.

Edit: Hahaha, I forgot the irises. Ooops. I am too punchy to put them in now though. I guess they are stone sculpture after all.


comicdragon-shirtcomplillies-shirtcompmoon1-shirtcompboxed-shirtcompweeds-shirtcomp Nothing really new this week, just thought I'd show you some of my wootshirt submissions as a break from posting ladies. (We are not done with the ladies.  In fact I have a backlog of ladies. And how often do people get to say that?) Though I worked at a tee shirt printing/design company for almost a year, I still find it a challenge to adapt a design originally meant for a page or poster to work on a tee shirt. I keep wanting to use the whole shirt, which is actually a bad idea because you hardly ever see the whole shirt at once. During normal wear, you really can't plan on a viewer getting a good look at anything more than what is referred to in the business as 'midchest'.

It'd probably help to draw something with the intent that it would be a tee shirt design, but that would require planning and foresight. *Pfffft*

Dragon: All Done!

So I gave in to my tendencies and made a very, very blue dragon. Well, I guess he's sort of violet, but it's balanced by the super-cute teal belly.

And he has pads! Eeeeeeee!

*Cough* Sorry. Regulations require at least one squeal per use of adorable paw pads.

Dragon: Red

Okay, so I'm probably out of inventiveness as far as titles go.

I'm playing with texture a bit here. It's subtle (and what do we know about subtlety?) but I like the concept anyway. I was trying to get the skin of the body to have a different taste than the armor scales. ( Due to my synesthetic brain, taste, textue and color are all very closely intwined. Actually, there's a sound component too, but when I get that far in a discription most people start to get incredulous.) I don't think I quite have it here, but it's an interesting thought anyway.

Dragon: Probably Poisonous

I think this is my best expression so far. The face is cute, sure, but it's the pose that really does it.

This one went through a few different color changes. I knew I wanted the spots, and I wanted the tail to fade to red, but everything else was up for grabs. For a while he was a sort of grey/blue. But I use blue too often, and I know it.  So I decided to go a little more...vibrant.

Dragon: Inquisitive Longneck

Another take on quick scales. I think this one worked out a bit better, although it doesn't follow the curves of the form as the earlier try did, and I want to fix that. But later. These little studies aren't about driving myself crazy trying to get it perfect, and I'm finding I like how much that frees me up to experiment and learn.

Funny enough, that's exactly what nine-dozen art teachers have been trying to get me to do for years. But I never could really do it in a class setting. (Strange thought: this is the first extended period since third grade or so that I haven't been under some sort of standardized art instruction.) The constraints of experimenting now, on the clock and using the materials/references provided just made it so artificial that it was hard to actually be excited about learning. Worst for me though was the core concept: if you're getting it right, you're doing it wrong.

Dragon: Crawler

In my mind, the platonic version of this drawing is powerful and impressive and just this side of discomfortingly alien. Unfortunately the execution is just sort of... awkward. I mean, awkward works too, but it wasn't my intention.

I do like how the head joints to the neck, and the neck to the body. It's just the body itself that seems to be the problem.

Dragon: Fuzzy

A bit more of a mammal than the others, but who said dragons have to be reptiles, anyway? Besides, if I'm going to be absurd (I think the earwings count as absurd, don't you?) than I've offically renounced any friendship logic and I have previously enjoyed.

I blame the whole thing on the cold medicine I'm taking. Wheeeee.

Dragon: Classic Green

First attempt at scales. Well, I should amend that: First attempt at scales in which I did not individually draw every scale by hand. Clearly I don't have a total grip on this technique yet, but I think it has potential to reduce cramping in my facia over adductor pollicis.

I think of this body type as a 'regular' dragon. Nothing fancy, but with all the necessary boxes checked: membranous wings, the previously mentioned scales, and it's green. Very few animals in the world are quite that green, (the color reference for this was a green tree python) and none of them are quite that large. Therefore, large+green+scales+bat wings = dragon.

Everyone's brain does math that way, right?

Dragon: Tank

Bulls lower their heads and stamp the ground. Elephants fan their ears and trumpet. This guy? I bet he wags his tail and flaps his little wings eagerly before running you over like a freight train.

I like the color job in general, but I'm having second thoughts about the purple. I'm not sure what would be better though. Any suggestions?

Dragon: Brown

I shamelessly stole the color and stipe concept for this dragon from Zedonks. Yes, that is exactly what you'd expect it to be.

The color job on this makes me happy. It's just brown, really. But it's a very pretty, visually interesting brown. It's nice to see that my coloring skills have developed to the point where I can make a regular old brown animal look exotic. Of course, being a dragon probably helps with that.

Dragon: Sound Effects

This one ended up sort of... geko-y.

I'd been trying for a fishy, mermaid companion animal sort of creature, and I think I mostly succeeded. However, when I take this guy for a walk in my mind (I do this for most of my imaginary animals, to make sure all the bits work. ) I hear a loud *squickaPOP*! *squickaPOP*! from the sucker pads on the undersides of his feet.

Dragon: Barney

To my relief, a quick google search informs me that the well known grinning nimrod has a green belly, and therefore I did not accidentally draw a little winged Barney.

Forgive me for my Barney directed bile. There are certainly far worse children's shows out there, it's just that Barney was the first childrens show I ever watched as an adolescent (while babysitting, I missed watching Barney myself by a few years) and I was mildly revolted by the experience.

Perhaps it's just my memory, but the shows I remember watching as a kid had charm, plot, and dialogue that was deliberately a bit over the kids' heads.  I'm a particular fan of that last one. It gave the kid's brains something to work on (as in real overheard conversation) and it let the adults watch as well without sucumming to brainrot.

In my fantasy of how I will parent (I realize that I cannot really have any concept of what's involved in being a parent, having never had any kids, but that doesn't prevent me from planning for the possibility) I'll have stacks of DVDs of Fraggle Rock, vintage Sesame Street, and the Muppets. There will be a monitor and a DVD player, but- and this is hard for some Americans to concieve of- no cable connection.

That's right. No TV.